Modern Team Italia – Crucible of Words by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales


As I said last week, I have  built a Team Italia (WBR) deck for modern. When I mentioned doing this in my last article I figured it would be simple as I have run this sort of deck in lots of formats and have one built up for Legacy at the moment as well, however upon sitting down to draw up a list, I couldn’t find an angle I liked.

I began with Dark Confidant which clearly belonged in the deck, I then thought about Thalia, Guardian of Thraben who has been amazing in modern for me in other decks. So I put them together and their mutual creature type made me want to use Cavern of Souls, seemingly I was on track.

A gatherer search later and the human plan was feeling a lot less worthwhile, and I felt a little deflated, so I considered just using these two humans and ignoring the tribal theme and just playing good stuffs like in my legacy deck. I hit a snag when I saw how poorly Thalia interacted with all the best spells in the colours like Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Path to Exile and Lingering Souls. Thalia and Dark Confidant were no longer going to be in this list together.

Next I considered Lingering Souls, this card is incredible and I wanted to use it for sure, taking three off of Dark Confidant wasn’t a big deal, but how could I maximise these tokens? I could run more and some anthems perhaps? Then I end up including Spectral Procession and co which makes Dark Confidant seem pretty terrible, so maybe I cut him from the deck, and obviously I don’t want Thalia in here. Then I get to wondering why I’m playing red as the deck has evolved itself into a pretty stock BW tokens deck maybe Hellrider? But this was becoming a cute and worse version of BW tokens, mission failed again.

I thought about going the Thalia route instead of Dark Confidant, but I’ve been building a lot with her lately and she lends herself really nicely to two colour decks when you’re in modern, and I felt that by cutting out a lot of spells, I was basically disregarding the reasons I wanted to play Team Italia in the first place! Thalia was deinfately not the way to go here, even without Dark Confidant.

Taking a step back, I wrote down the spells that I wanted to play in this deck for sure, that made this colour combination good:

4 Dark Confidant
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
4 Lingering Souls
4 Inquisition of Kozilek

It seemed like a good start, but was needed was a better way of winning the game. How was I going to generate pressure and how could I squeak in some more card advantage? I then remembered an interaction I’d discovered in the modern format that I hadn’t found a place for yet, Gravecrawler and Mutavault. An excellent way of getting more Zombies in a deck and also running the powerhouse that is Mutavault; and as I showed last week, I’m not worried by three colours and four colourless lands in a low curve deck. I was getting there for sure.

What other cards interact well with this set up I Pondered…. Faithless Looting has some merit with Lingering Souls and Gravecrawler and I’m a massive fan of the card as well. If I’m crowbarring that in, I can probably get some more graveyard shenanigans in, so one of my all time favourite creatures was there waiting for me; Bloodghast. Looting also gives you the benefit of making discard spells late game turn into business thanks to the flashback. It was all taking shape, add in a couple of Raven’s Crime as something to pitch early to the Looting and get value with from excess lands that I don’t need, chuck in a Darkblast to further my graveyard meddling and we’re just about there.

Yes, I can see the manabase will need some precision, and we do have a lot of one toughness creatures, so I’ll add some Blade Splicer in the spare slots and we’re sorted. I would have liked Kitchen Finks instead, but I can’t take the piss with the manabase any more than I have.

So here’s what it looks like:

4 Dark Confidant
4 Gravecrawler
4 Bloodghast
2 Blade Splicer
4 Path to Exile
4 Faithless Looting
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lingering Souls
2 Raven’s Crime
1 Darkblast
4 Marsh Flats
4 Arid Mesa
2 Blood Crypt
2 Godless Shrine
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Mutavault
1 Swamp
1 Plains

3 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Disenchant
3 Thoughtseize
2 Blade Splicer
2 Geth’s Verdict
2 Pillar of Flame

The classic old 19 land special, it might be taking it a bit too far, but with only six cards above two mana, it should work out alright as a basis for testing at the least. It could be that I’ve been too greedy and need another land, but Faithless Looting can help find more as can Dark Confidant.

Sideboard wise, it’s the usual suspects, some hand disruption, additional threats, graveyard hate, Disenchant(which should be a mainstay of most white sideboards), and some different removal to cover your bases a little more. Obviously it’s tweakable for the meta as each week you need to adjust in this format it seems, which is both healthy and irritating from a building perspective.

There we have it really, it took a lot of reasoning to get something that looked playable in the end, which surprised me since this colour combination is one of my most played and favourite. I did at one point consider Steelshaper’s Gift and various Swords to make better use of the guys, and this could be how the deck evolves in the end. Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to test this out since it took me so long to get it into a place I was comfortable with, along with being busy testing for the Standard PTQ’s.

Anyway, I’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed this article and seeing my workings behind the list as it built itself, and I look forward to the comment about how greedy the mana is.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.



Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways